Syria Crisis: Tears falling on a foreign land

News Stories, 12 June 2013

© UNHCR/S.Rich
When Hala crossed the border into Jordan, dragging a large black bag with all of her possessions, she let out a heart-wrenching sob.

TEL SHIHAB, Jordan, June 12 (UNHC) The tears are falling before Hala has even crossed the border. At the moment she enters Jordan, dragging a large black bag with all of her possessions, she lets out a heart-wrenching sob.

Nothing has prepared Hala for becoming a refugee. Now, with her eight children, her sisters and their little ones, she is far from her home in the city of Homs and her husband is still in Syria.

Today, UNHCR field staff are meeting new refugees on Jordan's northern border with Syria. Along with the Jordanian military, they comfort Hala's younger children and help carry their luggage away from the border near Tel Shihab.

After more than two years of vicious civil war in Syria, the soldiers at the border have seen daily flows of people crossing into Jordan. They know all too well the heartbreak, stress and trauma faced by those fleeing. More than 1.6 million Syrians have fled their country since March 2011 and sought shelter in neighbouring countries, including more than 470,000 in Jordan.

"We are all just so exhausted," says Hala. "My children are hungry and tired. We haven't had enough food for weeks and they have all seen more than they should. I worry for them. I worry for my country."

© UNHCR/S.Rich
Hala was moved to tears after crossing the border into Jordan.

Hala's youngest child, Hiba, is just six months old and the conflict in her homeland has been raging her whole life. Perhaps sensing her mother's fear and upset, tears roll down her rosy pink cheeks and catch in her long dark lashes. But, she doesn't make a sound and her siblings are equally quiet and watchful.

"We don't know what will happen to us now. I hope the fear will pass and that we will be safe now that we are in Jordan. But I also hope that the war will end and that we can go home again. I hope, Inshallah," Hala says.

Her resilience and strength are clear she has held her family together from Homs to Damascus, and now in Jordan she will do it again. Gently she wipes the tears from her face and, clutching the hands of children, moves off to find some space to rest before the next step of their journey to Za'atri refugee camp, which is now home to more than 100,000 refugees.

UNHCR has dedicated and compassionate staff working on the ground, around the clock, providing care, support and essential relief supplies to refugees like Hala. But, as the war in Syria rages on and thousands of people continue to arrive every day, the agency's resources are increasingly stretched.

Last Friday, UNHCR, other UN agencies and dozens of humanitarian organizations called on donor nations and other supporters to provide billions of dollars in additional funding to help the millions of desperate Syrians inside and outside their country. UNHCR and its partners need US$2.9 billion to help refugees in the surrounding region this year.

At this time, every donation will make a difference and a gift of just US$20 could help pay for mats to prevent two families from having to sleep on the ground. Refugees like Hala, her children and her relatives need your help today.

Please make a donation to the UNHCR Syria appeal.

By Kirsty McFadden in Tel Shihab, Jordan

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UNHCR country pages

Non-Iraqi Refugees in Jordan

After Saddam Hussein's regime was toppled in Iraq in 2003, groups of refugees who had lived in the country for many years tried to leave the chaos and lawlessness that soon ensued. Hundreds of people started fleeing to the border with Jordan, including Palestinians in Baghdad and Iranian Kurds from the Al Tash refugee camp in central Iraq.

Aside from a few Palestinians with family connections inside the neighbouring country, the refugees were refused entry and free movement in Jordan. Thousands were soon stranded in the no-man's land between Iraq and Jordan or at the desert camp of Ruweished, located 60 kilometres inside Jordan.

Since 2003, Palestinians, Iranian Kurds, Iranians, Sudanese and Somalis have been living there and suffering the scorching heat and freezing winters of the Jordanian desert. UNHCR and its partners have provided housing and assistance and tried to find solutions – the agency has helped resettle more than 1,000 people in third countries. At the beginning of 2007, a total of 119 people – mostly Palestinians – remained in Ruweished camp without any immediate solution in sight.

Posted on 20 February 2007

Non-Iraqi Refugees in Jordan

Iraqi Refugees in Jordan

The UN refugee agency has launched a US$60 million appeal to fund its work helping hundreds of thousands of Iraqi refugees and internally displaced people. The new appeal concludes that unremitting violence in Iraq will likely mean continued mass internal and external displacement affecting much of the surrounding region. The appeal notes that the current exodus is the largest long-term population movement in the Middle East since the displacement of Palestinians following the creation of Israel in 1948.

UNHCR has warned that the longer this conflict goes on, the more difficult it will become for the hundreds of thousands of displaced and the communities that are trying to help them – both inside and outside Iraq. Because the burden on host communities and governments in the region is enormous, it is essential that the international community support humanitarian efforts.

The US$60 million will cover UNHCR's protection and assistance programmes for Iraqi refugees in Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt and Turkey, as well as non-Iraqi refugees and internally displaced people within Iraq itself.

Posted on 10 January 2007

Iraqi Refugees in Jordan

Iraqi Children Go To School in Syria

UNHCR aims to help 25,000 refugee children go to school in Syria by providing financial assistance to families and donating school uniforms and supplies.

There are some 1.4 million Iraqi refugees living in Syria, most having fled the extreme sectarian violence sparked by the bombing of the Golden Mosque of Samarra in 2006.

Many Iraqi refugee parents regard education as a top priority, equal in importance to security. While in Iraq, violence and displacement made it difficult for refugee children to attend school with any regularity and many fell behind. Although education is free in Syria, fees associated with uniforms, supplies and transportation make attending school impossible. And far too many refugee children have to work to support their families instead of attending school.

To encourage poor Iraqi families to register their children, UNHCR plans to provide financial assistance to at least 25,000 school-age children, and to provide uniforms, books and school supplies to Iraqi refugees registered with UNHCR. The agency will also advise refugees of their right to send their children to school, and will support NGO programmes for working children.

UNHCR's ninemillion campaign aims to provide a healthy and safe learning environment for nine million refugee children by 2010.

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